Many public and subsidized housing developments in the US are aging and in need of significant repairs. Some observers worry that their poor condition threatens the health of residents. We evaluated a recent renovation of public housing that was undertaken through the transfer of six housing developments from the New York City Housing Authority to a public-private partnership. We studied whether the renovation and transfer to private managers led to improvements in tenants’ health over three years, as measured by Medicaid claims. While we did not find significant improvements in individual health outcomes, we found significant relative improvements in overall disease burden when measured using an index of housing-sensitive conditions. These findings are not surprising. Given that broad-based housing renovations address a diverse set of health conditions, we should not expect them to have a significant impact on any single condition in the short run. Yet they may significantly improve residents’ overall well-being over time.
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